6 rising stars of comedy. 1 night. Let the cameras roll.
Interview with Executive Producer Emily Best
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
We made Everything Is Fine! as our first original because we saw a gap in what streaming platforms were delivering versus what audiences wanted. The major platforms have invested (or gone into debt) to the tune of billions, leaning on fame and effects in the bulk of their original movies and shows. We chose a different approach: a focus on simple storytelling and the incredible independent talent already out there, holding firm to our commitment to championing lesser known (and underrepresented) talent in front of and behind the camera.
I have always loved stand up comedy — it's one of the purest storytelling media, but I rarely saw myself in it. This has been a chance for us to make stand up reflect the experience of more people. Because the point is not that you always need to see yourself represented. It's actually that when you're represented and others watch it, you have a sense that other people are learning to empathize with you.
To be honest, we thought if we got together six of Los Angeles' most exciting up and coming comics in 2018, we'd get something full of rage and politics. What we got something that was so joyful, self-reflective, honest and FUN that it felt much more exciting and timely than our original idea.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
You want to laugh. You NEED to laugh — joy is also part of the revolution. You want to finally learn why Beyonce is so amazing and how to respond to an affirmative cat call. You want to see different perspectives and experiences within comedy. You want to find out which fishbowls are haunted. You want to support independent creators and inclusive casts and crews. You like discovering new stars before they become household names. And you want to laugh some more.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
Everything is Fine! was born out of a desire to escape the news cycle hellscape we live in today. We sought to champion lesser known comic voices as they react to our present day political climate. What we got was something else — something better. This group of brilliant storytellers help you see the world for what it is: beautiful, tragic, joyful, ridiculous and funny. They break through the noise of headlines, Tinder and gossip to explore sex, love, money and the struggle of being alive in ways you rarely see in stand-up. The comics aren’t talking about politics, but just their act of standing on stage and being themselves feels like a radical act. All we had to do was point the cameras and laugh with them.
Their comedy is really about connecting people, and when we shot the live show, we watched audiences just FLOAT out of the theater with misty eyes (from laughing). We all got a chance to relate to each other for one night, no matter how different we are.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development?
Because the comedians wrote and performed their own material in front of a live audience, the evolution of the special and the episodes really happened in post. Fortunately, we had great material and audience reactions to work with, and the narrative for the episodes was led by the interviews we conducted with the comedians themselves as well as those close to them as they've built their craft and careers.
When we started watching the interviews back with the comics and their closest friends, we saw this really beautiful common theme emerge: your friends and loved ones know you better than you know yourself. They have seen your greatness coming, they are there to elevate and inspire you. So the docu-comedy series we built around each of the individual stand-ups is both really heartwarming (that's the part of the story we got to develop afterwards) and brilliantly funny (which is what the comics brought on day one.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
The night of the special we started filming audience reactions and one thing that really struck me: a guy came up and said "I realized about 3/4 of the way through that this was an all-women lineup. And then I realized that I was noticing that, and it was the first time I had ever seen that. And then I realized this was the best standup show I had seen and how terrible that it's the first time I've seen this many women performing in one night."
Which was awesome to hear because that was originally the point. We weren't going to make any mention of the fact that this was a show with all women comics, since there have been about 1000 standup nights with all men and nobody bills it as an "all male comedy review." But then Louis CK had to try and make a comeback and women in comedy was on the top of everyone's mind. So we decided to lean into it, from a promotional perspective.
What's the most heartening is that people's reactions to it have been just to the great comedy — it hasn't been about gender at all. What we're seeing is people watching it and then making their friends watch it so they can talk about Riley's Silverman's set, or Katrina Davis' set...
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
More than anything, it's gotten us talking about how we can make more seasons of this, maybe based in other cities...
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
Sharing the talent of so many talented creators, in all stages and roles of the production, who made this special possible! We respect the thoughts, taste and insights of the We Are Moving Stories community, so we're thrilled to have them not just watch the special but discuss it in terms of comedy, streaming originals and empowering the film community.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
Audiences! Our goal is to have as many people as possible watch Everything Is Fine! and share it with comedy fans, film lovers and critics. We're working on building a new kind of streaming library (we've already achieved gender parity in directors in our library), and the more people we have subscribing, watching and talking about our films, the more we can make.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
We made this on a shoestring budget, pulled all the favors...we really pulled together all our skills as independent filmmakers but we also did it with equity in mind. The cast, the crew was truly and meaningfully diverse in so many dimension, and we think the collaboration of so many different kinds of people throughout the process brought a creative power to the material you can't buy. We're sharing the revenue with the comics, also, hoping to demonstrate to the comedy community there is more than one way to monetize and build a sustainable career. (Good GOD do comics work so much for free.)
We're hoping that people will watch and love this, and that will help us get the buy in from more of the comedy community about how we can work towards a healthier (more sustainable! less sexist!) entertainment industry.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
How do personal backgrounds, experiences and identities influence how we see, process and communicate with the world through humor? Can — and should — they be separated ever?
What other projects are the key creatives developing or working on now?
OMG where to start. Xan Aranda is showrunning a show for a major streaming platform (you'll find out more when the time is right.) I can't keep track of how many TV shows Eve Cohen is currently shooting. One of our camera ops, Paris McCoy is shooting her own film in Chicago in the coming weeks. And if you follow all the comics on social media, you'll see that they're on stage most nights of the week! Heather Turman's film STUCK is coming out soon...and the Seed&Spark team is working on new releases to our streaming library every single week!
Interview: September 2018
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series, music video, women's films, LGBTQIA+, POC, First Nations, scifi, supernatural, horror, world cinema. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us? More info: Carmela
Everything Is Fine!
6 rising stars of comedy. 1 night. Let the cameras roll.
Length: 68 minutes, 6 episodes from 14-20 minutes each
Director: Xan Aranda
Producer: Emily Best and Clay Pruitt for Seed&Spark
Writer: Heather Turman, Lianna Carrera, Katrina Davis, Amelia Harris, Leah Rudick, Riley Silverman
Key cast: Heather Turman, Lianna Carrera, Katrina Davis, Amelia Harris, Leah Rudick, Riley Silverman
Looking for: audiences, journalists
Made in association with: Seed&Spark
Where can I watch it next and in the coming month? Exclusively on Seed&Spark: www.seedandspark.com/watch/everything-is-fine